Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system can run on a wide range of devices with different processors, screen sizes, and display resolutions. But in order to meet Microsoft’s Windows 8 Certification requirements (which lets you slap a Windows 8 logo on your device), you need to meet certain criteria.

Until recently one of those criteria was a 1366 x 768 pixel display. But ZDNet noticed that Microsoft has loosened that restriction… which could pave the way for Windows 8 tablets and notebooks with smaller screens.

Windows 8 Start Screen

So far I haven’t seen a Windows 8 device with a screen smaller than 10.1 inches. But 7 and 8 inch tablets running Android and iOS are proving pretty popular with shoppers.

Theoretically there’s nothing stopping a company from producing a smaller Windows 8 tablet with a 1366 x 768 pixel screen. But most smaller tablets on the market feature 1280 x 800 or 1024 x 768 pixel screens.

That makes Microsoft’s new requirement for certification interesting: Device makers can use the Windows 8 logo on devices with 1024 x 768 pixel or higher resolution displays.

Does that mean we could see an upcoming 7 inch Microsoft Surface tablet running Windows 8? Maybe. How about an Asus, Acer, HP, or Lenovo Windows 8 tablet with a smaller screen? It’s possible. There’s even some talk of a Barnes & Noble NOOK tablet running Windows 8.

But those devices wouldn’t come without compromises. Some Windows 8 features still require a higher resolution display.

While you can run Windows 8 on a machine with a 1024 x 768 pixel display, you won’t be able to use Windows Snap. That’s the feature that lets you show two Windows 8-style app side-by-side on the same screen. It’s one of the features that helps set Windows 8 apart from other mobile operating systems… and it’s a feature Microsoft is expected to expand with its upcoming Windows Blue update.

It’s also interesting that Microsoft still isn’t supporting devices with 1024 x 600 pixel displays. That’s the resolution that was used most often by netbook makers from 2008 through 2012.

In other words, while you can run Windows 8 on an older netbook, the experience isn’t perfect. And Microsoft apparently has no plans to make things any better for netbook users.

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7 replies on “Microsoft Windows 8 logo changes could pave way for smaller tablets”

  1. Ugh, no wonder netbooks went under. 1024×600 was the most common resolution? That’s unacceptable even for phones now. Who can have a good experience with such a low resolution? Nobody, that’s why netbooks fizzled out.

    1. Hardly, considering full HD as standard is pretty recent and netbooks started to fizzle out before that happened.

      Netbooks mainly fizzled out because they pretty much never got updated. The latest netbooks were hardly any better than the first ones ever released… So no real reason to get a new one after you already had one.

      Along with other factors like the growing mobile market pushing their usage down and the general push by the industry to get rid of netbooks because of the small profit margins, etc. Many netbooks were making less profit per unit sold than even the cheapest tablets for example.

      While 1024×600 is still showing up in phones… and it’s only considered low on larger screens… On a 4″ Phone screen for example that same resolution results in nearly 297 PPI… The iPad’s retina display only has a PPI of about 264 for comparison, because the 2048×1536 has to cover a larger 9.7″ screen.

      So let’s not exaggerate too much!

  2. The minimum resolution I’d take for a 7″ Windows device would be 1024 x 768 as long as everything works. Other than the Snap feature, what else doesn’t work on sub-1366×768 screens?

    With Clover Trail and Windows 8, I’ve been hoping for 5″-7″ UMPCs to come back! I don’t want to wait till Bay Trail because based on using 10.1″ Clover Trail tablets, the performance is great for my intended purposes.

  3. Brad, can you possibly explain Windows 8 on netbook issues? I haven’t read anything current or updated regarding Windows 8 on a 1024 x 768 resolution. If you’re saying it’s not a great experience, can you reference or provide some details on this? I don’t think you’re Feb 2012 experiment really qualifies as “accurate”. You’re the expert and I would appreciate hearing the issues. I’m led to believe based on what you’ve said, that the experience is lacking. Somehow I don’t see MS lowering the specs and then having a crappy experience, aside from losing snap. I’m all ears. I’ve heard next to nothing about a newish netbook running Windows 8. Thanks.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a netbook with a 1024 x 768 pixel display. Most ship with 1024 x 600 pixel screens and a few have 1366 x 768 pixel displays.

      The latter should run Windows 8 just fine. The former are pretty much useless if you want to run any Windows 8 style apps at all. They won’t run unless you install a graphics driver that lets you pretend you have a 1024 x 768 pixel screen — and if you do that the screen sort of looks squashed, text gets stretched out in funny ways, etc.

      Windows 8 has a minimum screen resolution requirement of 1024 x 768 pixels, and if you try running it on anything with a lower resolution display than that, you’re going to have trouble getting everything to work properly.

  4. who cares about 1024×600? Please, let the progress be made! Leave low resolutions, leave x86-32

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